Legal Ethics

Delbarton School seal

Delbarton School seal from Wikimedia Commons.

A New Jersey lawyer has resolved a lawsuit accusing him of violating a confidential settlement by telling reporters that a Catholic school had reached a settlement of “approximately seven figures” in a priest sex-abuse case involving a male student.

The lawyer, Gregory Gianforcaro, resolved the case with the Order of St. Benedict on Wednesday without disclosing terms of the deal, report the Morristown Daily Record and the Associated Press. Prior coverage by the Daily Record and AP is here and here. The deal was reached at the end of the first day of trial in Morristown.

The former student had alleged he was abused by Rev. Timothy Brennan at the age of 14 at the Delbarton School, an all-male private college-preparatory school in Morristown run by the Order of St. Benedict. The school said Gianforcaro had alleged breach of contract and violation of the duties of good faith and fair dealing, and the lawyer should repay the settlement amount.

Gianforcaro had maintained that he wasn’t bound by the settlement because he didn’t represent the student when he agreed to settle his priest-abuse case in 1988. Gianforcaro had mentioned the approximate seven-figure settlement during a 2012 press conference where he announced a new lawsuit seeking to get the student released from the confidentiality agreement.

The former student reached a settlement with Delbarton in 2014 that allows him to talk about the abuse, but still bars him from revealing the settlement amount. NY Advance Media wrote about the settlement at the time.

Leaders of the Order of St. Benedict disclosed in July that 30 people have alleged sexual abuse by 13 priests or other faculty members at Delbarton since 1988. Gianforcaro has settled five lawsuits against the school on behalf of people who say they were sexually abused, and has six more outstanding, the Daily Record reports.